Stiles breaks ground on first major office project in downtown Fort Lauderdale in a decade

The first major office tower in downtown Fort Lauderdale to rise in a decade has broken ground, along with an apartment building.

Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles Corp. and partners Shorestein Properties are building the newly-named Main Las Olas at 201 E. Las Olas Blvd. It will have a 357,000-square-foot office building, 341 apartments and ground-floor restaurants and retail. It is the largest single project in the history of Stiles Corp., which was founded in 1951.

The developer assembled the 2.7-acre site in two deals, a ground lease with Broward College and an acquisition of a former bank drive-thru site.

This was one of the last deals engineered by company founder Terry Stiles before he passed away in 2017. Stiles, a pioneering developer in the city, built most of the office buildings on Las Olas.

"We are privileged to carry on my father's legacy and vision for Las Olas with a project of this caliber that boasts such a distinguished design and exceptional location," said Stiles CEO Ken Stiles, at the groundbreaking. "The Main Las Olas project represents the growth and transformation of the central business district on Las Olas, expanding the active core to west of 3rd Avenue by creating a place where people can live, work, create, dine and entertain."

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis called it a "momentous occasion" and credited Stiles Corp. for completing many of the signature buildings in the city. He expects more than 10,000 people to move downtown in the coming years, and Trantalis would like to see a grocery store at Main Las Olas to serve them.

Stiles President Scott MacLaren said there will be 17,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space underneath the office building and 26,000 square feet for what will likely be a single commercial tenant underneath the apartment building. They aren't ready to announce that single tenant yet, he added.

Stiles Corp. said the office should be completed in 2020, making it the first major new office tower to open downtown since the AutoNation building — also built by Stiles — in 2008. There was a slowdown in the office market that started during the Great Recession. But occupancy rates and rents have improved, and thousands of residents have moved downtown. The new Brightline passenger rail station has made it easier to travel from downtown Fort Lauderdale to Miami and West Palm Beach.
Stiles Corp. met the pre-leasing requirements to obtain a construction loan for the project, and it hopes to finalize the funding soon, MacLaren said.

The developer has already signed three tenants, law firm Akerman LLP, law firm Berger Singerman LLP, and diversified holding company BBX Capital Corp. (NYSE: BBX) as tenants for a total of 85,000 square feet.

Eric Rapkin, head of Akerman's real estate practice, called Main Las Olas a "transformative" project for the city.

"When we understood how terrific the building would be and the amenities it would offer for our team members, it was an easy decision," said Seth Wise, executive VP of BBX Capital. "When working with Stiles, we have a high level of confidence in their ability to execute."

Stiles Construction is the in-house general contractor of the project while Stiles Realty is the in-house commercial leasing agent.

"The feedback we have received on this project has been nothing short of phenomenal," said Robert Breslau, Stiles' chief development officer. "We signed an impressive roster of first office tenants who share our vision for a downtown core that seamlessly blends business with living."

The office tower was designed by architect Cooper Carry. It features 12-foot floor-to-ceiling glass to maximize views and sunlight. The offices will have 10-foot ceilings, taller than in most office buildings downtown. There will be an outdoor amenity deck on the 10th floor, plus a fitness center, a conference center, a lounge, and 5,400 square feet of event space.

Stiles Corp. said the office building would be built to LEED Gold certification for green building standards.

The apartment building will have units ranging from 600-square-foot studios to 1,400-square-foot units with three bedrooms. All units will have stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, and keyless entry via a mobile app. Amenities in the apartment building will include a pool deck, a yoga/event lawn, grilling stations, social lounges, co-working spaces, a rooftop terrace, a pet grooming and spa area, and a fitness center with on-demand classes.

"Stiles shares our excitement for developing premier properties and we are pleased to expand our high quality, well located portfolio of mixed-use developments to Fort Lauderdale," said Mark Portner, managing director of Shorenstein. "The city is experiencing a resurgence and we look forward to leveraging our experience in creating sustainable, state-of-the-art spaces to further transform the booming downtown."



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